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Case Reports

Deciding on a Journal?

Selecting a journal or other publishing avenue for scholarly and professional activities can be a confusing process, but it is critical to ensuring that your research is shared. 

Per ICMJE, "authors have a responsibility to evaluate the integrity, history, practices and reputation of the journals to which they submit manuscripts." See: Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, revised December 2016.

Pre-Selection Checklist

Define your needs before you search for a journal - make sure that you know the parameters for what you are trying to do.

  1. Which journals do you or your mentors and colleagues read? 
  2. Who is your desired audience?
  3. What type of article or study is it? 
  4. Do you need to publish in a peer-reviewed journal?
  5. Is speed an issue? Do you need an expedited review process?
  6. Do you need to comply with public access mandates for sharing of publications and/or data?
  7. Do you want your article to be Open Access? Does this need to be immediate (gold) or is a delay acceptable (green)?

Find Journals by Publishers

Use these indexes and sources to browse journal requirements and subjects to find one that suits your needs.

Journal Selectors

  • Search or use matching tools with very large multi-publisher lists to find a journal

Journal Selectors for Specific Publishers

  • Search for a journal to fit your article within one publisher's list

Research Publishing Industry Groups

  • Check that a publisher belongs

Journal Impact Factor Seeking Tools

There are many different evaluation scales that try to compare journals by degree of impact. The following are readily available, widely used, and transparent about scoring methodology.  Use them to try to find top journals in your area of interest.

Is this journal in Medline/Pubmed?

What are MEDLINE, PubMed, and PubMed Central?

MEDLINE (also known as Index Medicus) is an enormous journal citation database of life sciences and biomedical literature that is sponsored by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. It currently includes over 24 million references and citations dating back to 1946, from a carefully selected list of more than 5600 scholarly journals from around the world, and is updated daily. Journals that belong to MEDLINE are respected, and it is commonly considered the first and finest source for most biomedical research. 

PubMed is the open searchable interface for MEDLINE and other types of biomedical literature. It allows users to search MEDLINE itself, very new in-process citations for articles not yet published, older citations for journals not yet loaded into MEDLINE, author manuscripts of articles published using NIH funding, ful-text articles in PubMed Central, and some journals early in the process of review for inclusion for MEDLINE (these may eventually be rejected, so judge carefully when using them).

PubMed Central is a sub-section of PubMed that is entirely full-text. It includes early manuscripts and post-publication articles produced from research funded by the NIH, as required by law. Because it includes ALL publications produced from NIH funded research, it includes records and articles from journals not indexed in MEDLINE

How are they useful for selecting a journal to publish in?

If a journal has been accepted for full inclusion in MEDLINE, nearly all scholars will accept it as a respectable choice for medical and dental publishing. Biomedical journals that are not included in MEDLINE may also be good choices, but they require more evaluation. Remember, some journals that are visible in PubMed are still under review for inclusion in MEDLINE - they may eventually be rejected. 

Where is the list of journals in MEDLINE?

Complete List of Journals indexed in MEDLINE

  • To search the list rather than browse it, go to the above link and add a relevant general subject or known title word as an additional search term to the search field. Remember, this is just searching journal titles - do not be overly specific.

Is This Journal Respectable? Checklist from Think. Check. Submit.

Think.Check.Submit icon


Think. Check. Submit is a cross-organization effort to help researchers figure out whether a specific journal is a viable option for publishing research.  Use it to evaluate journals that are new to you before submitting to them.

Checklist for Journal Consideration

  • Do you or your colleagues know the journal?
    • Have you read any articles in the journal before?
    • Is it easy to discover the latest papers in the journal?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the publisher?
    • Is the publisher name clearly displayed on the journal website?
    • Can you contact the publisher by telephone, email, and post?
  • Is the journal clear about the type of peer review it uses?
  • Are articles indexed in services that you use?
  • Is it clear what fees will be charged?
    • Does the journal site explain what these fees are for and when they will be charged?
  • Do you recognize the editorial board?
    • Have you heard of the editorial board members?
    • Do the editorial board members mention the journal on their own websites?
  • Is the publisher a member of a recognized industry initiative?

Invitation Red Flags : Avoiding Predatory or Weak Journals

Have you received unsolicited emails from journals or publishers asking you to submit your work or be on an editorial or review board? The vast majority of these invitations are false or unworthy, from predatory publishers who will not give your work the attention it deserves or are trying to lure you into paying excess fees to publish. They are not all false, but look for any of these red flags when considering such emails. 

Not all problematic journals will include all of these red flags, and some may not include any. If you are in doubt, please consult your colleagues, professors, or a librarian.

For more expansive information about Predatory Publishers and examples of their invitations, please see the Predatory Publishing Guide.

Red Flags in Emails from Supposed Publishers

  • Bad or unusual formatting
    • Poor spelling and bad grammar
    • Stilted and incomplete wording
    • Flash media and bright colors
    • Archaic or unusual greeting (Dear sir or madam, Good sir, etc.)
  • Email Address
    • Does not appear to match the name (especially if you do know the name)
    • Contains numbers or does not contain the name of the sender or affiliation
    • Uses a free service such as Gmail or Yahoo
  • Unknown Sender Issues
    • You don't know the name of the publisher
    • You don't know the name of the sender
    • Lacks link to a journal website
    • Lacks name of specific journal 
  • Strange Claims
    • Promises of fast or expedited publishing
    • Includes vague praise of your previous work
    • Offers immediate payments, gifts, friendship, etc.


Red Flags for Journal Websites

  • Bad or unusual formatting
    • Poor spelling and bad grammar
    • Stilted and incomplete wording
    • Dead links
    • Journal website is not easy to find using Google
      • Note: This may also be true for legitimate journals from low/middle income countries
  • Unknown Entity Issues
  • Lacking information
    • Unclear publication schedule
    • Missing physical address or phone number
    • Missing contact information for the editor-in-chief or edit
    • Missing information about publisher and ownership of journal and included content
    • Missing Copyright or Licensing information
    • Missing information about indexing status and which databases may include the journal 
    • Missing ISSN for the journal title
    • Missing DOIs assigned to the article titles
    • Missing article titles or abstracts viewable
    • Missing information about author fees for Open Access
    • Missing information about Peer Review
    • Missing information about journal ethical policies (complaint handling, conflicts of interest, data sharing, oversight, intellectual property, post-publication discussion, etc.)
  • Strange Information
    • Citation indexing is "done by Google and/or SHERPA-Romeo"
    • Multiple journals with few articles and irregular publication schedules.
    • Journal title very similar to an established journal  
    • Promises of swift publication timeframes or other benefits
    • Unusual number of journal articles annually (too many or too few)
  • Editorial Board Issues
    • No editorial board members names
    • Editorial board members are all from a single institution or have no affiliation 
    • If you ask the board members about the journal, they do not know that they are supposedly affiliated with it
    • You can't find long publication lists for board members in PubMed
    • No contact information for editorial board members
    • Multiple journals have the same editorial board members for the same publisher

If in doubt, ask a mentor or colleague or a librarian.

Open Access : What & Why?

What is Open Access?

"Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives." - SPARC

Why publish your work Open Access?

Some funding bodies - the NIH, NSF, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, etc - require or recommend that funded researchers publish any work derived from their grants as Open Access. Some universities also require this. Typically, this requirement permits a year's delay; in such a case, publication in a journal that will automatically become available in PubMed Central is sufficient. 

  • SHERPA/JULIET can help you find and check a wide range of international funders' Open Access and archiving requirements and permissions.

Some writers wish to publish their work Open Access in order to ensure that everyone everywhere may benefit from it.

Some writers may wish to ensure that participants in the original research can have access without cost. 

Types of Open Access

Gold Open Access means that the articles are available immediately as open access directly from a journal site. Typically, this requires payment from the author at time of acceptance for publication.

Green Open Access means that the articles are available from a repository, and may or may not also be available on a journal publisher's site. Typically, the author uploads it to a self-selected site after it has been published in a journal elsewhere. There may be a time delay, depending on the publisher's requirements.​ 

Resources for Finding Respected Open Access Journals

Ask a Librarian for Help